Writer Pet Peeves


I don’t mean to complain. Writing is hard enough for most people, especially me. But there are some things that just stick in my craw. For instance:

1.People who want to be writers but don’t like to read.

I’m totally baffled by this paradox. The only explanation I can come up with is that the person is in love with the idea of being a writer, rather than having any real passion for the craft. It’s like wanting to be a dancer, but not bothering to learn the moves; or someone who wants to be a rocket scientist, but just can’t bother with the math stuff. My love for writing was born out of my love of books. In reading stories, I wanted to create them, too. It’s a symbiotic relationship–I can’t see one without the other.

2. A writer gets his or her first rejection–and then never submits again.

As a writer who has received many rejections, I can understand this one. One never quite gets over the sting. I remember a writer in a critique group who was so devastated/humiliated/infuriated by his first rejection, he decided to self-publish on Kindle exclusively. That’s a perfectly viable option, I suppose, and self-publishing is something I’d like to explore someday. But a thick skin is something every writer should develop, on many fronts, and learning to deal with criticism (constructive and destructive), as well as the inevitable rejection letter, helps in this regard. For me, every rejection only makes me more determined to get that elusive acceptance. It’s a matter of stubbornness now.

3. That self-published writer who is a marketing and promotional genius–but the writing is mediocre, at best.

I’m not knocking self-publishing. As noted above, it’s an opportunity I’d like to look into when I feel ready. And there are self-published authors out there who are also outstanding writers.But no one can deny that the market is flooded with cheap, crappy writing. It certainly behooves a writer to know how to market and promote their work effectively, but it needs to be backed up by strong writing. Learn the craft, then market. It’s why I’m not ready to self-publish yet; if and when I go that route, I want the writing to be the best I can possibly make it, and I don’t know if I’m there yet. As I said above, rejection letters tend to make me work harder, learn more, make it better. It’s a spur to improve. And if my work ever reaches a level I’m proud of but it’s still not finding an audience through traditional means, then it might be time to put it out there on my own. But that’s just me.

4. A writer who balks at rewriting.

I am totally guilty of this, so I include myself in this category of peevedom. Writing is re-writing, of course, and I’ve had to learn to love the process. It’s not so much revising itself that stymies me, it’s the form I’m working on. Short stories, or even novellas, are small enough not to send me into a panic; it’s novels that tend to overwhelm me. Where to start? But at least I’m addressing the issue by taking a revising course taught by Joan Dempsey, and maybe I can then tackle that awesome dragon novel sleeping in my desk drawer. I don’t want to become a collector of rough drafts.


Maybe it’s my inner Grinch coming out this close to Christmas, but I thought I’d get these things off my chest. Merry Christmas, and happy writing!



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